Cross-border expert raises concerns for Canada as Trump has breakfast with automakers

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As President Donald Trump sat down for breakfast with chief American auto executives Tuesday morning a Windsor Ont., cross-border expert said he's concerned about what trade changes could mean for Canada.

"I want new plants to be built here for cars sold here," Trump tweeted around 6 a.m., announcing his sit-down with the chief executives of General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Although members of Trump's team, including his chief economic advisor Stephen Schwarzman, have warned that Canada shouldn't be too worried about the talks, Bill Anderson of the University of Windsor's Cross-Border Institute, said there's no way American trade decisions won't bleed over into Canada.

"Whether Canada will be able to get exceptions to any rules that are put in place to try to prevent jobs going from Mexico to China, I think that's going to be very hard to do," explained the CBI director. "I think it's going to have a negative impact on Canada."

After his breakfast with the auto executives Trump, flanked by the CEOs of GMC and FCA, said he wanted auto plants built in Americans and promised the U.S. would be "very hospitable" to investors.

"We're going to make the process much more simple for the auto companies and for everyone else who wants to do business in the United States," he said.

Anderson has been carefully watching the first few days of Trump's presidency and said the President's plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement could be "very disruptive."

"No other country in the world is as highly dependant on trade with the United States, so if there's going to be a massive change in the American trade regime and trade regulations in the United States it's going to affect Canada in a very big way," he added.

Good reasons for good trade relations

According to Anderson, there are logical reasons behind the U.S. and Canadian's close trade ties and even if NAFTA was to fall apart there could still be a basis for the countries to work together.

But it will be up to the Canadian government to make sure America doesn't forget its northern neighbour.

"I don't think it's going to be very high on the agenda of the people in Washington to make sure Canada doesn't get caught up in these trading changes," he said.

Canada has to keep up

With Trump wasting no time in following through on his promise to leave the Trans Pacific Partnership Anderson said Canadian officials will have to work quickly to keep up.

"The pace of change over the next year could be incredibly fast," he said, adding that trade deals are typically arranged in a process that takes years. "I don't think President Trump has that kind of patience … so I think the Canadian government is going to have to be very quick on their feet so they don't get caught up."

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